You’ve got a telephone interview or Skype call – read this first
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You’ve got a telephone interview or Skype call read this first

What’s the best way to prepare for a Skype call or telephone interview?

Here’s Frame 25’s Skype guide and phone interview tips to help you land that job.

Skyping and the telephone interview are increasingly preferred by companies to short-list candidates for face-to-face meetings because they’re such cost-effective and fast ways to screen people.

But how can you reduce the chances of rejection at this early stage? How can you ensure you give the best possible answers and increase your chances of progressing to the next stage of the selection process?

We lay out some phone interview tips and Skype guidance to help you avoid the most common mistakes as you look to land that job you’re after.

Frame 25’s 11 phone interview tips and Skype guidance

Tip 1: Avoid thinking that it’ll be no more than a ‘routine chat’

Believing a telephone interview is just a chat on the phone with a potential employer can be fatal. It’s not. So don’t treat it as such. If your new girlfriend/boyfriend calls you halfway through, ignore it. They/you will survive.

This belief that a telephone interview is a “routine chat” is a really common misconception.

After submitting your CV and going through the agency, a telephone interview is your chance to make at least a solid (preferably brilliant) first impression.

Your conduct during this interview forms a huge part of the employer’s opinion of you, so treat it accordingly: as a serious part of the interview process.

It may appear to be a friendly and casual experience but remember you’re still being screened as a professional and should conduct yourself accordingly.

Tip 2: The interviewer’s big disadvantage

It’s obvious but we’re going to say it anyway because it needs consideration: the person interviewing you on the phone can’t see you so he or she will base their judgement and decision entirely on what they hear.

For that reason, avoid making/taking the call in a noisy environment or, if you’re at home when you’ve just put the washing machine on.

By the same token, tell anyone you live with what’s happening so that they don’t shout anything from the next room that will both disturb you and negatively influence your interviewer.

The last thing you want to happen is begin what you believe will be a strong interview only for your housemate to enter the room singing Mama Mia at the top of their voice into their hairdryer because you didn’t tell them you’d be on the phone at 8 am, going for the job of your dreams.

While it might not seriously harm your chances, it will definitely disturb the interviewer and disrupt any early momentum that you’ll have built up and could negatively impact on your rapport.

Your objective is to sound friendly, personable, knowledgeable, motivated and confident.

Additional Skype tip:

80% of communication is non-verbal, which is why some interviewers like to have that visual element. They want to see how you react to tricky questions, for example.

But whether your Skyping or talking on the phone, you’ll still want to let others in your home know what’s happening.

Tip 3: Prepare

You wouldn’t turn up late for a face-to-face interview wearing a t-shirt and pyjama bottoms, so prepare appropriately for the telephone equivalent.

In a word, plan.

Set a reminder on your phone if you’re in the habit of forgetting or missing things.

Look at your CV and think about the most impressive – but relevant – points, the bits you want the interviewer to hear. This is important because a telephone interview is always much shorter than a face-to-face interview, so get to the meat and don’t waffle on about irrelevant stuff.

Also, take the time to look at your prospective employer’s website well before the call to learn as much as you can about the company (their culture, history, services and clients, for example), your interviewer (if they work for them, rather than an agency) and industry trends.

If you want to take it a step further and sound as impressively clued-up as possible, you could even find the name of the CEO and the share price, and casually drop those facts into the conversation when naturally appropriate.

Have all this information to hand when you’re on the phone. Even if it’s a Skype interview, you can keep a set of notes discretely beside you, but try not to read from them like a bad actor (or indeed a poor interviewer who ums and ahs between questions). Instead, use bullet points to remind yourself of key items that you want to raise.

You should also prepare a few questions you’d like to ask the interviewer about the role, the company, its ambitions, plans for growth, and so on. Again, try to ask these as naturally as possible, rather than sounding like someone reading from a script.

Tip 4: Take notes

During the interview itself, take notes. It’s amazing what you think you’ll remember during an important conversation (either on the phone or in-person) but actually forget.

Politely asking your interviewer to pause for a moment while you “make a note of that” is no bad thing (as long as it doesn’t interrupt the natural flow of the conversation).

To add speed to your note-taking, use bullet points and abbreviate/leave out as many words as possible without losing meaning when you look back over what you’ve written after the interview. To that end, it’s always advisable to ‘flesh out’ those notes immediately after the call while it’s all still fresh in your mind so that they definitely will make sense two days later.

Should you be invited for a face-to-face interview, reviewing these notes will put you at ease and reassure you that you’re doing well – you must be, otherwise, you wouldn’t have been called in.

They’ll also remind you of points that might need further discussion and could generate questions that you only think of well after you’ve hung up the phone.

Tip 5: Stand up

Standing up during your telephone interview will help you sound…

  • Clearer
  • More expressive
  • More positive

…than staying in your chair. It’s a simple trick but it works.

Additional Skype tip:

While standing up may not be suitable for your Skype interview, getting your background/setting right is crucial. Generally, choose a tidy, neutral background (books on a shelf are a solid choice), in a well-lit room. Avoid backlighting, a wall that clearly needs a lick of paint, a switched-on TV and anything else that’ll distract your interviewer and/or present you less favourably.

Tip 6: Landline versus mobile

Not essential, this one, but it can help if you take or make the call on a landline rather than your mobile.

Landlines can offer a more stable connection and you eliminate problems like your battery dying, the distracting sound of notifications in your ear that may come in during your telephone interview and even the chance of your ear switching your phone to flight mode during this important conversation and inadvertently cutting off the call (which has happened).

Tip 7: Consider dressing smartly

Dressing smartly for a telephone interview might seem odd but the effect this simple act has should not be under-estimated.

You’re basically telling yourself that you’re taking this seriously. You’re dressed and ready for business. Dressing smartly can actually help you think smartly, give you more confidence and make you feel more professional. And this comes across in your voice on the phone.

Additional Skype tip:

This clearly applies much more for Skype interviews than those conducted over the phone. On Skype, where your interview will see you, presentation is key, so dressing smartly is imperative.

Tip 8: Have a glass of water available

Nervy situations often cause our mouths to dry up. A telephone interview can be daunting enough without you adding to the pressure by asking for a moment so you can get a glass of water halfway through because you keep getting tongue-tied (or, worse, having the interviewer suggest that you go and get some water – that means you’re disturbing them).

Tip 9: Take the right tone

Sell yourself with confidence but don’t over-do it. The last thing you want is to come across as conceited, cocky or too clever for your own good.

The interviewer is gauging what you say and how you say it to work out not only how good you’d be in the role but also what you’d be like to sit next to during the fifth successive 12-hour day in a confined working environment, such as those you often find in the broadcast industry (edit suites and OB trucks are never the biggest spaces you’ll work in).

Often, likeability trumps ability, especially if the employer’s choice comes down to two candidates with similar backgrounds and work histories.

Tip 10: Smile

Like standing up and wearing smart clothes, smiling transmits itself during a telephone conversation without the interviewer even seeing it. Smiling adds to your positivity, your confidence and your demeanour. It helps you relax and, again, you’re telling yourself that everything’s just fine. That takes us to our final tip:

Tip 11: Enjoy it!

We hope you find this useful when preparing for your next telephone interview.